Archive for the 'Cha Gio' Category

Phở Ngoon – San Gabriel

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

In the mood for Northern Vietnamese fare, The Astronomer and I, along with our friend Courtney, headed to San Gabriel’s Phở Ngoon for lunch. The newish restaurant, which is located in the same plaza as Boston Lobster, offered a lovely change of pace from the Central and Southern Vietnamese cuisine that we tend to favor.

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

Upon arriving at the modernly appointed restaurant, we were seated promptly and presented with menus. The one-page bill of fare was awesomely concise, consisting of just three starters and ten mains. We shared five dishes between the three of us.

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

First up was an order of pho cuon ($3.50), a dish that was super-trendy in Hanoi circa 2008 when The Astronomer and I lived in Vietnam. Comprised of thin rice noodle sheets wrapped around lettuce leaves, grilled beef, and fresh mint, the pho cuon was served with nuoc cham for dipping.

While I didn’t care too much for this dish in Hanoi, I quite liked Pho Ngoon’s more robust rendition.

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{swoon} Chả Giò Tôm Cua at Bến Lạ Restaurant

Ben La - Westminster | Best Cha Gio

While researching Little Saigon’s choicest quan nhau (watering holes) this past weekend, I tasted the very best cha gio I’ve had since living in and traveling throughout Vietnam at Bến Lạ Restaurant.

Stuffed plump with crab, shrimp, and pork, then deep-fried twice for maximum blistering, these rolls induced swoons from everyone at the table. Even when tightly wrapped in lettuce and herbs and dunked with abandon in chili-spiked nuoc cham, the cha gio remained unbeatably crisp, the translucent rice paper wrappers shattering with each bite.

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Hà Tiên Quán – San Gabriel

Ha Tien Quan - San Gabriel

Dining at a single restaurant on five different occassions in the span of two months has got to be some sort of record for me. While this type of behavior is generally considered quite normal, it’s really very notable in my world because food blogging tends to discourage restaurant monogamy—there’s always something newer, more exciting, or tastier just around the corner.

Ha Tien Quan - San Gabriel

Hà Tiên Quán in San Gabriel has reeled in my promiscuous dining ways with its tremendous Vietnamese cooking. The restaurant’s lineup of regional noodle soups never fails to warm and satisfy, while the vegetarian fare packs a wallop of flavor.

With nearly every Vietnamese restaurant in town serving up the usual pho, vermicelli rice noodles, and and banh mi, it’s been a breath of fresh air diving head first into Hà Tiên’s anything-but-predictable menu. Best of all, I’m constantly tasting new dishes that I didn’t grow up with or encounter while living in Vietnam. This place is my edible playground.

Ha Tien Quan - San Gabriel

The family behind the restaurant is comprised of Larry Ta, his wife Thu Trang, and their daughter Carolyn. Thu heads up the kitchen, while Carolyn and Larry greet, seat, and tend to customers. Both Larry and Thu are from Ha Tien, a city on the western end of the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border. Hà Tiên Quán opened its doors last October.

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Saigon Classic: Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The Astronomer and I recently traveled to Vietnam for a two-and-a-half week holiday. Three years have passed since we called Saigon home, and it felt incredible to be back. Oh, how I’ve missed the people, noise, and traffic!

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel and renting a scooter to get around, we headed to Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ in District 3 for our first meal in the city.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The Astronomer and I used to eat here on a daily basis when we first moved to Saigon because it was located within walking distance of our office at the East Meets West Foundation. And of course, the food was worth coming back for again and again.

When we walked into the restaurant, the proprietress instantly recognized us and asked where the heck we’d been. It’s always nice to be remembered at a restaurant, and even nicer when it’s been three years. We grabbed a table near the front and placed our order with her son. Our table was decked out with the usual utensils, box of tissues, and pork sausages wrapped in banana leaves (cha).

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

I ordered a tall glass of passion fruit juice to start. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies are widely available in Saigon to keep residents cool from the tropical heat. The ratio of sugar to juice is always perfect for my taste.

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